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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Waking the Dead: The Complete Season Four'
(Trevor Eve, Will Johnson, Susan Johnston, Claire Goose, Holly Aird, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / BBC Home Video)

Overview: Chief Inspector Boyd and his team are back to reopen the files of more cold cases. A spectral leader, calling himself “The Shepherd,” is incitivulnerable women to commit murder; a sadomasochistic killer is counting off his victims, leaving the word “sorry” carved into their skiand the discovery of an unexploded bomb threatens to bring unforeseen upheaval to the team. Meanwhile, Boyd's visiting a shrink to deal with his anger management, while an apparently mild-mannered ex-con starts to reveal signs that he's actually well connected in a sinister crime ring.

DVD Verdict: OK, for those that (still) don't know, 'Waking the Dead' is a British television police procedural crime drama series produced by the BBC featuring a fictional Cold Case Unit comprising CID police officers, a psychological profiler and a forensic scientist. As usual, all episodes come as two-parters, and first up here in series four is 'False Flag.' In this one, Boyd and his team face a race against time after a skeleton found in a condemned garage triggers a tragic chain of events. The skeleton is that of garage owner, Gerald Doyle, an Irish terrorist who went missing in 1981. An unexploded car bomb found at the scene points to terrorist activity as the cause of death. However, Doyle’s parents produce a set of his diaries, which reveal that he was actually a mole for the British intelligence services.

A nice tension-filled opening slowly opens the Irish political veins, but also features some nice flashbacks to '70s British TV! Mind you, watch out for the abrupt ending to this first part! The second part is a slow burner and a truly horrible death occurs in the 34th minute, so beware! A predictible ending ends up being brought forth, but it at least wraps everything up nicely.

'In the Sight of the Lord, Part 1,' sees Boyd and the cold case team investigate the unsolved murder of a World War 2 conscientious objector. In 1948 George Western was found in his living room with a nine-inch nail through his head. When his grandson Adam finds new evidence and organises a media campaign, the case is reopened. Then the body of elderly William Davis is found in similar circumstances and Grace uncovers the identical killing of Norman Taylor in 1961.

The team discovers that Taylor and Western were in the same regiment during the war and trace surviving members to try to solve the murders. Funnily enough, the whole cast look tanned in this episode - like they had all come back from a long break! Which is most likely true, as this may well be the 2nd episode in the series 4 box-set, but in reality it's actually the first one that got filmed from it!

Anyhoo, this is a slowcooker of a first part, circling (in a very detailed manner) around the Second World War, and shows, as the death toll mounts, that a spike to the head is a horrible way to die! It also stars an old UK favorite actor in Geoffrey Bayldon as an ex-soldier in civies - and with something to hide! Part 2 reveals an old war sign that allows us to figure things out for ourselves as the minutes unravel: 'Let Us Do The Talking.' A well formulated, played out finale, inclusive of a twist 100% not seen coming brings the episode to its close.

'Fugue States, Part 1' tells the story that begins in 1990, when Jason and Cindy, two 5-year-old twins disappear from their home - and even after a nationwide search is launched, they are still not found. Thirteen years later, Jason is found in a hospital suffering from injuries he sustained in a car accident. But where's Cindy? Boyd and the team set out to find her. While, as a subplot, Mel Silver is trying to find her biological mother. This spins a nice storyline on a horrible subject, but the one of Mel looking for (and subsequently finding) her mother, well, all seems a little underused - and has a crap ending all of its own!

There's a BIG ending for part one, and whereas (as usual) part two starts of slow, the moment a Book of Sh*t is presented to Boyd, so that he can find out what exactly was the one he had found was quite brilliant - and no, I'm not kidding, as one look at the pages of this book had me averting my eyes! A great twist just before the end comes into play, but the overall ending you can kinda see coming.

In 'Anger Management, Part 1,' a man staying in a "halfway house" for released prisoners apparently uses a gun to commit suicide. The gun is later stolen from Frankie's lab. Investigations reveal that the gun could have been used by a hired assassin in 9 murders over the last 30 years. And the reason for the title isn't just about our lead suspect and what he has harbored for so long, but Boyd is taking Anger Management classes too! Part one kicks off with a flashforward and is, for all concerned in their worlds on display here, a very emotional ride. In truth, nothing much happens in Part one, but it's in Part two where we hot up - as we now see where the flashforwards from before have landed our main characters. The relevance of certain issues comes full circle and Nigel Terry as Sam Jacobs is just brilliant in his role as the troubled parent.

'The Hardest Word, Part 1,' centers around the squad investigating the murders of two males who had the word "Sorry" carved into their backs. The latest victim has a brother linked to Organised Crime, so three other officers are brought in, which Boyd takes an instant dislike to - except Greta. The new faces create tension in the office and the team cannot trust them. As the case goes on, they begin to realise that it could be leading to a paedophile group. A weird one this - and with an even weirder start to it too! A tense story, with a tense undercurrent of police levels between Boyd and his opoposite number in the task force set up to run itself out of his office!

Some of the throwaway lines Boyd uses behind the other teams backs are hilarious, but the ending of this first part is horrible. Not that you 100% couldn't see it coming, but when it does, it truly makes you sit up and shake your head. Part two is a darker episode for it, another slow burner, it provides us with a stella performance from James Dreyfus as Raymond Carstairs. The trouble is, after this episode has concluded, you still have the unanswered question of who killed Sgt. Martin - and THAT bugs me!

The final two-parter, 'Shadowplay, Part 1' tells the story of a young woman with a history of psychiatric problems who kills her family by setting the family home on fire. She admits to the crime, but claims that she was coerced in to doing it by a mysterious character known only by the name 'The Shepherd'. Meanwhile, as we progress, her psychiatrist links her case to similar cases and gets the Cold Case Squad involved. Now this is one major way to bring the series to a season 4 close, trust me! The title relates to a Shadow Agent that inhabits the brain, and is the tension between you and your shadow, believe it or not.

The first part is full of power, gives Mel Silver a lovr interest for the first time, and ends in a manner that gets you ready perfectly for part two. Which, features two brothers at each others throats in a case of he said he said, which eventually ends, well, badly! Mind you, before the end, which wasn't seen to be coming, there is one mother of a SHOCKINGLY SPECTACULAR death scene ... to one of the team, sadly. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.